Friday, October 11, 2013

Why We Do What We Do

Occasionally we are asked why we as foster parents do foster care. Not many times, because most people understand it as "taking in kids to help them". Absolutely! There is more to that though. So very much more.  It has been 2 years since we started this journey with kids in our home and ohhhh the things we have learned.....

We don't do this for the money-  The state reimburses foster families at the end of each month an allotted amount of money for each child they have placed in their home. What we get doesn't necessarily mean it costs that much to take care of a child. It is just an extra boost of help with providing for their needs. Could we live without it? Absolutely. Could we care for kids without it? Absolutely. Is the financial assistance helpful? Absolutely. It is not a determining factor of why we do foster care though.

We aren't in to just adopt-  Three years ago we knew we wanted to start trying for a family again. We faced the infertility road once again, and decided we needed to start praying about another possibility God might be placing in front of us to provide a family. Talking to a friend, the words adoption...foster care...Buckner...Covenant Kids... all started coming up. Leaving the event we were at, we started to wonder, 'could this be the road God has intended for us'???? Stepping out on faith we started the foster care process. Why we skipped straight up adoption and just went to fostering, I'm really not sure. Possibly a mixture of the fear of no financial means to adopt and the overwhelming responsibility that comes with adoption. I stop and laugh right now because there we were, oblivious to the reality of  the responsibility of foster care!! Ha!! So as we began the meetings and trainings, I truly believe our hearts were in it to adopt a child out of foster care. That is not a bad thing! Kids NEED to be adopted out of the system! After our first few kiddos left, we were disheartened. We also got a huge dose of reality though. The full extent of reality didn't truly hit until child #7. At that point we started realizing that we needed a heart change. God wanted us to take in kids to love, nurture and help heal wounds that they couldn't care for themselves. He didn't want two foster parents bitter at the system and the families of these kids just because we couldn't have biological kids and we couldn't keep their child! God has continued to open our eyes to how much of a difference it makes in the life of a child to have a safe place for a certain amount of time. That safe time gives the child time to heal as much as possible from their past, but also gives the parents an opportunity to do the same. Some parents don't make the choice to heal and get their child back anyways. Do we agree with that? No. We can't change that either. We aren't called to. We do what we are called to do and that is show these kids and families Jesus. That looks different for every child and family. No two are ever the same. Joshua and I still have a deep desire to have a child that stays with us permanently that we can give our last name to. We are not promised that will happen and if it doesn't.... That is ok!!!

We don't do it because it's easy- If I have heard it once, I have heard it six million times.... "I just don't know how you give them back"!!! I am by no means dismissing the fact of how hard it really is to let children go. I could write a book on how hard it is, but I won't ;) Sometimes it seems as though when we are approached about letting them go, that we choose that! If we had the choice, none of them would leave! We take these kids in, love them like our own, then we endure the heart break of letting go. The kids struggle at times too with leaving, but they do have their family to go home to. We take this heart break, so the kids don't have to. Seems crazy, but it's for the best. I always tell people that you would really be surprised what God is capable of doing in your life with foster kids if you allow Him! (Or should we even be surprised at what He can do?? He is God!)

We do it out of obedience- There are times I really question if what we are doing is right. I know, sounds crazy after all I have previously said, but it's true. When God stirred our hearts to take in foster kids, I know He knew He would be dealing with two very stubborn, hard headed foster parents. So when times get hard, it's so easy to question this calling. I'm sure God shakes His head occasionally at us, but He still sticks with us. Even though the path you are set on is rocky and unstable at times does not necessarily mean it's wrong. God wants us to be faithful to serve HIM through this calling of caring for foster kids. He knows it's hard. He knows loss hurts. He knows
family drama is ridiculous. Most of all, He completely understands. So even though we question
ourselves and things get ugly sometimes, we are still going to be obedient to that very moment God called us to begin this journey.

Monday, March 11, 2013

We do it anyway!

It's a normal day just like any other. The only difference about this day was that it would be the day we take in a foster child. Everybody is excited to have a new baby/child in the house. Nervous, but excited! We get the child's bed ready and sheet tucked in tight. Toys are ready. Pantry is halfway stocked with food that might appeal to the child. Paperwork is blank and all ready to be filled in. Everything is perfect. So we sit and wait. We wait for that precious little child/baby to come through our door. We always think what will they be like? What will they look like? Will he/she be crying or smiling when they come to the door? Then the knock comes at the door and it is the caseworker with the little bundle of joy. We welcome them in, greet the child and then begin paperwork. One of us plays with the child and the child just laughs and plays while the other parent does paperwork. He/she uses his manners very well. There is no arguing or screaming when we have to move on to a new task after the caseworker leaves. We sit down and have a perfect little family meal. Later, we cuddle with the child then tuck him/her into their bed which they already love. They sleep through the night with no fits or crying. They wake up the next morning ready to run into your arms and be loved on.


No. Not at all. That is not real. That is what we THINK foster care is like sometimes. This is what we always wish it could be like. The reality is though, that all of what happened in that former paragraph is actually completely opposite of what it's truly like to take in a foster child. (yes, rare occasions happen where the child is actually semi-behaved for awhile) They don't know us or our family. They want their real mom and dad. They want their home and their bed. They don't want to play with the toys we have. They don't love us. They actually are pretty annoyed with us at the moment. We look at each other and say "our home is clean though! No drugs, no abuse, food whenever you want it! You don't have to sleep on trash, or even on the floor!" No. They don't care at the moment. They still miss "their home" as bad as it was. Even as resilient as infants are, they too can have a hard time. Their security of their caregiver(good or bad) has been taken away. They have to adjust to a new schedule. New smells. New bed. Now, is it possible over time for the child to adjust to us and our family? Possibly! Some kids will never adjust the way we want, because they have a past. A hard, very difficult and hurtful past. Some kids will though. Every child is different.
 Each week that passes, we have to pack them up and send them to visit the very family that hurt them in the beginning. That visit can possibly cancel out all of the progress you have made with the child's behavior and attachment. It still has to happen though. Packing the child up for them to go back home indefinitely to the very family that hurt them is much worse than a visit could ever think about being. It still has to happen though. We could ask God "WHY??!?!" but there is no point, because He knows why and that's all that matters. The decision for that child's life has to pass through His hands before it could take place anyways. So whatever happens is truly meant to be, because the Lord allowed it to happen. Does it hurt? Absolutely! Thankfully though, we can rest in the fact that God knows exactly what is going on with that child. With every child!

 All of this is something that Joshua and I have had to be reminded of over the last few months. When these kids come into our home, it's like taking in a newborn every time. These kids may not know how to do things that other children their age can do, so we start at the beginning with them. We learn them. We learn their likes and dislikes. Their "triggers" or things that set them off. One thing we tend to forget frequently, is that all of this takes time. We deal with fits at meal times, and bed time or anytime for that matter. We take the kicks and spit in the face. Why though? Why do we take all of this? Weren't we just supposed to have "our own biological kids" who are good and don't do this??


We were not. God called Joshua and I to do something totally different. We do this because this is the path the Lord has put us on. Some don't understand how we could take in kids and then let them go. I never know how to respond to that, because I don't know how we do it either! Only by God's grace and mercy! It is not easy to take in a child that is not yours and figure out how to love them like they are yours, and then turn around and let them go. No. It is not easy, but we do it anyway. We do it because God instructed us to. These kids/babies need a safe place to call home even if it is just for a few days or a few months/years. They need a safe set of parents that they can eventually learn how to trust. They need a warm bed and blanket to call their own for awhile. We do this even if it does mean we have to have our hearts broken multiple times. Even if we do have to sacrifice time, money, energy, effort, space, and sanity. We love them anyway. We take them in anyway. We love them like our own anyway.  Not.easy. But definitely something we have to be faithful in doing. We absolutely love doing foster care and we know that this is a ministry for our family. I just felt overwhelmed to share my heart though, about the reality of foster care. We can get so lost in the "cute kids" that come into our home that we lose sight of their past and hurts and what they really need right now. Foster care is not all flowers, bunnies and tutus. It is hard. It is work, and it is worth it to see how you can make a difference in the life of a child.

Friday, January 25, 2013

God really CAN give you more than you can handle!!

I begin this post by saying that God is absolutely incredible with the way He unfolds His plans for our lives. Unfortunately, there are times we sit here and try to "plan" what we think our lives should look like and how we think we should always have the fun, easy, "all things handed to me" lifestyle. It is so easy to go down that path because we are human and we are sinful.
  We have recently gone through a chapter in our lives of doing our own "life planning session". Long story short, we fail in the end just so ya know ;) We began this last chapter in November when we suddenly got the news that our little J was going to be moved back home to be with his mom. We weren't expecting that to happen until March or April in the least! At that point, I felt overwhelmed with the fact that God is about to do something and it's going to be big. I kept saying that I knew for certain He was up to something, because losing this little guy is very random. The very next month, the little girl we had went back home as well. So there we sat... empty nested. Joshua and I both felt completely ok with that because we truly needed rest. So there we sat with no kids and the planning started. "We will be taking a loooong break" "We will take kids again in February or March" WE this. WE that. The list goes on. One afternoon before our little girl left, we were presented with an opportunity to take two kids from another foster home sometime in January. After many days, and much debating on how "this is not OUR plan!!!!!" we decided that God has something up His sleeve and we better get on board quick. The babies came Jan. 9th. :) We knew from the beginning the little boy was not completely healthy, but we had no idea what was to come. Our plans that we had made were totally trampled, put through a shredder and then burned. The night we got the kids we knew little man was not well. We ended up at the ER the next day due to complications with his tummy and stayed in the hospital 8 days with him. The days were long. Very long. We couldn't find an answer with what was wrong. Through all of this my heart is broken because I am holding a 21 month old baby who has been through more in his little life already that some adults face, and now he is being poked and prodded in a hospital being held by somebody he doesn't even know. As I would sit and rock and rock and rock him, I just kept thinking how this was not even CLOSE to our plan!! hahaha! I was just in total shock! After we were finally home, we start the appointments for his little sister. She has a mis-shapen head, so we knew there would be some level of care we would have to follow through with. Again.. little did we know what was to come. We followed through with all of the xrays and CT Scans. Planning again (you would seriously think I would have learned by this point.... but no, still planning) I went into our appointment already KNOWING what the doctor was going to say. So I am literally blowing off the appointment. When the doctor came in and told me she had to have surgery, I felt like a bomb was dropped on me. Not just one surgery, but two and soon. Very soon. I left the office absolutely overwhelmed and feeling horribly guilty. Once shock had worn off, it was as if God grabbed my hand and said, "Come on, I got you. Just keep walking with Me and I will help you take care of these babies." I knew nothing else but to hand every single bit of our lives over to Him. (something I should have done a few months ago) All of this was TOTALLY unexpected. Never ONCE did I expect this, plan on this, or even imagine this to happen with these babies. That is where God's plan became so clear in our lives. We know at this point, that God can give us many challenges and trials, but He is always faithful to be there for guidance, support, encouragement, discipline and strength. He is a perfect God and Father and my life and my family is totally surrendered to HIS plan.

I have posted a link to a video of a song that has truly spoken volumes to me. I encourage you to follow the link and listen. I couldn't get the video to post :-/ You may have to copy the link as well instead of clicking on it.